10/06/2013 at 20:56 | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Finally Spring has arrived, and for the first warm-weather crawl of the year, Dimo took us back to Shoreditch, with a great, short walk around some great pubs around the City’s northern fringe sprinkled with some good local trivia.

We assembled at the Commercial Tavern on Commercial Street, very close to Shoreditch High Street station and a few minutes from Liverpool Street. The only pub of the evening I’d been to before, it’s a quirky pub, decorated in a style which could best be described as unfinished – lots of bare wood and chintzy old knick-knacks, and shutters over the windows despite the sunny day. It was busy with the typical crowd for this area nowadays, young and veering to hipster style! It is fairly small inside but there is a fair amount of room outside on the pavement which was being well used. We all went for a the Two Cocks Brewery’s Cavalier, a very pale ale which went down very nicely indeed.

City boundaryCrossing over to Fleur de Lys Street we crossed into the former territory of the Liberty of Norton Folgate, after which Madness named their 2009 album, and through to Shoreditch High Street and the Crown & Shuttle. This is an old pub which lay derelict for at least ten years but reopened last month, and what an amazing job they have done. The very first impression was not ideal, bouncers on the door and thumping music, but I became very pleasantly surprised. We naturally went to the bar near the door, where there was a fairly decent range of beers, some craft on tap and three ales. We settled for a mixture of Doom Bar, Redemption Urban Dusk and Trumans Runner. Taking our beers towards the back we came upon another bar with several more ales and even a racked cask, so well done on the beer front. Out back we found a huge beer garden which must have contained a couple of hundred people – the place was packed but still had room for a table tennis table, table football and a burger van! Very impressive, and fortunately the loud music wasn’t relayed out here either. A great find, and I’ll be back.

Despite the very short walk to the next pub, we touched on another world, as Worship Street stands on a very physical boundary with the City of London, with the slightly shabby Victorian Shoreditch High Street/Norton Folgate coming up against a wall of modern skyscrapers. But we didn’t plunge into the City but kept just to the north, and headed to the Horse & Groom on Curtain Road. It felt pretty small and dark after the Crown & Shuttle, but was somewhat more relaxed with quite a few punters drinking outside on the pavement (as did we). Far smaller beer range here, the only working pump being without a clip but we were told it was Ale Fresco, and it was very drinkable. As we were only there for a beer we didn’t experience the live music they also host.

Horse & GroomJust around the corner from the Horse & Groom is Hewett Street. A short industrial cul-de-sac today, it was once the site of the Curtain Theatre, which opened at this site in 1577, just 200 metres from the first theatre which opened the year before. It was home to Shakespeare’s company until he relocated to the Globe in Southwark, and was the first theatre to host Romeo & Juliet. It closed in 1622 but its remains were rediscovered in 2012.

Next up, the Fox, a corner pub on Paul Street. As with many pubs in the area, it has been modernised to an extent, but retains its large central servery, which is a lovely feature although it seems a bit oversized compared with the seating areas. As it was a warm day this wasn’t a problem, as we again took our pints outside. There was just the one ale on when we visited, Doom Bar, but it was perfectly decent and the bar staff were notably relaxed and friendly.

Further up Paul Street we found the Princess of Shoreditch, nothing to do with pearly kings but a modern gastropub. It was very nice and very busy, but we managed to get served from a good range of ales including local offerings Hackney Hopster (very tasty), Redemption Trinity and Sambrooks Lavender Hill. There was also a decent selection of craft beers in the fridge. We obviously didn’t stop to eat, but their food has won them awards from Michelin and Time Out so I’ll take their word for it. All in all a very nice place.

GriffinClose by, tucked down Ravey Street, lies the Griffin, a long, narrow pub in a strangely atmospheric street. The street used to be home to Boy George, who in 2008 was sentenced to 15 months after kidnapping a male escort in his Ravey Street flat. Anyway back to the pub, it was busy but not overly so, with a DJ using vinyls creating an atmosphere without deafening everyone. There were some interesting ales on, with East London Brewery’s Jamboree, Truman’s Runner and Twickenham’s Naked Ladies.

Up now to the heart of the Shoreditch Triangle, and a pair of pubs on Rivington Street. The Bricklayers Arms first; I’ve walked past numerous times and once or tried though about going in but it’s often looked pretty full. It looked full this time too, but once we’d got our beers in (decent but standard ales – Deuchar’s IPA, London Pride, Abbott Ale, Adnams Bitter) we headed for the back where there wa more space, and actually found a table upstairs. Its Gents surprised me – covered in graffiti, making it feel like a really dodgy dive (though I think it’s there by design!). All in all a decent pub.

The final stop of the night was the Barley Mow, a stone’s throw from the Bricklayers. Another small and busy pub, we were quite lucky to get a small table on which to rest our pints of Wild River and attend to the final task – voting for the inaugural Pub of the Crawl Award.

After a long debate about how the voting was going to work, we just had time to cast our votes, and the winner was…. The Griffin. Congratulations!

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